What is it about?

Scholars usually interpret 1 Corinthians 13:12 as depicting an encounter with God because of the repetition of "then ... now" and the verbal shift from present to future tense. Additionally, scholars propose that the implied object of "we see" is God, and humanity will see God face to face. However, New Testament scholarship has struggled to explain the mirror metaphor, "we see through a mirror in a riddle." Scholars argue it is depicting: indirect theophany, mystery religion initiation, or philosophical agnosticism. Conversely, this article argues that 13:12 and the mirror metaphor is best understood within the socially charged discourse of virtue, ethics, and imitation. I demonstrate this by investigating texts were mirror metaphors were used in Jewish, Greek, and Roman literature. Ultimately, this article reveals that Paul’s mirror metaphor represents moral transformation and reflects the ethical discourses of his day.

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Why is it important?

This article reveals that Paul's discourse on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is actually indebted to ancient philosophical ethical discourses. In other words, Paul articulates an ethic of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is an ethical way of life, according to Paul and the New Testament.

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This page is a summary of: Reflecting Ancient Ethics, Novum Testamentum, June 2022, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15685365-bja10022.
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